After a 3-week trial and less than 24 hours of deliberation, a federal jury in San Francisco convicted Mr. Stephen Leung of AUO of one felony count of price-fixing in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. He was charged with participating in a worldwide conspiracy to fix LCD panel prices. This was a retrial following a seven-defendant trial that concluded on March 13, 2012. In that first trial, AUO, AUO America, and two individuals were convicted of conspiring to fix LCD panel prices, but the jury hung with respect to Mr. Leung 8-4 in favor of conviction. Two other individuals were acquitted.
DOJ’s decision to retry Mr. Leung was not a surprise. It was consistent with their “get-tough” policy on international cartels, and it would have been very hard to walk away from a case in which the jury was leaning heavily toward conviction.
The result also was consistent with what often happens in the retrial of a criminal case. Retrial typically favors the government because the defense has lost the element of surprise, and the government can address whatever held the jury back in the first trial. Perhaps even more importantly, where as here the first trial involved multiple defendants, the government can focus its entire retrial case on the remaining individual. During the eight-week first trial, the government’s case against Mr. Leung may have essentially been lost in the evidence against the other defendants. Further, during that first trial, the two more senior executives who were convicted probably appeared more responsible and more culpable. On retrial, Mr. Leung lacked what may have been a helpful contrast present in the first trial.
So the government put on a much shorter, necessarily more focused case against a single individual. As the convictions in the first trial made clear, there was no shortage of documents and testimony for the government to use, this time against a defendant who could not be lost in a much longer, more complicated trial. He had attended many multi-party meetings in which the government argued price-fixing agreements were made. The government had extensive testimony from cooperating witnesses and, more importantly, contemporaneous documents—including emails—that corroborated their testimony. That evidence, and the government’s advantage on retrial proved to be too much for Mr. Leung to overcome. His sentencing likely will take place in 90-120 days. The individuals previously convicted received three-year prison terms and $200,000 fines.